Armchair Game Designer


This is my contribution to the Newbie Blogger Initiative Talkback Challenge. I was randomly chosen to talk about which parts I would take from current games to make my dream game.

So without further ado, let’s get cracking! Being an avid MMO player, of course my mash-up will be one of those as well.

Character Class / Skill Design from  Final Fantasy XIV

One of the more crucial decisions to be made. I want something flexible, yet not too complex. There’s very little I dislike more when it comes to games, than to be bombarded with hundreds of skills, having to figure out which combination to use in my build. That immediately makes me search forums or guides for advice. At the same time, being constrained to one single purpose is a put-off to me as well.

Final Fantasy XIV does this well. I can switch between Knight in shining armour, to spell-slinging mage with the press of a button. The different classes are fairly rigid, yet allow for some customization with the use of cross-class skills.

Honourable mention: Rift. The Soul System is very flexible and allows a single character to fill several different roles in a group, depending on setup.

Gathering & Crafting from Everquest 2

Similar to my preferences when it comes to character classes, I want something more complex than “get resources, click button, receive item”. This one’s kind of a toss-up between Everquest 2 and Final Fantasy 14. While the crafting in EQ2 is more active, FF14 feels more strategic. In the end Everquest 2 wins by a small margin to me.

Social Activities from Lord Of The Rings Online

Sadly today’s crop of MMOs offer very little in terms of social (non-combat) activities. Gone are the days where we had a game with a whole profession dedicated to socializing (Entertainers from Star Wars Galaxies). One of the few games that still have something like that is Lord of the Rings Online with its music system.

Honourable mention goes to any game that includes non-combat activities in the form of (seasonal) festivals which don’t require me to just kill stuff.

Player Generated Content from Star Trek Online (and Neverwinter)

As I mentioned before, I am a big proponent of Player Generated Content. And no developer does this better than Cryptic in Star Trek Online and Neverwinter, at least as far as I am concerned. The wealth of missions is incredible and increases my personal enjoyment immensely. I would also keep the Spotlight feature, where every week or so the dev team chooses one mission to promote and make it give increased rewards for players.

Dynamic Events from Rift

Dynamic Content seems to be one of the current things to have in MMOs. From all that I have personally played, the system in Rift feels the most fun for me. The sheer number of different rifts and zone events that can happen make it very varied. Of course, after grinding events for a while it can become stale and boring, but

The little things

Self-mentoring from Rift: It’s just great to easily set my own level whenever I feel like doing lower level content without it being trivial.
Cosmetic Armor System from Everquest 2, Rift, or any other game that does not force me to permanently change the look of a piece of equipment, but rather has extra slots that then override the look of my normal (stat-giving) equipment. Bonus points if I can also change my weapon’s type.

Phew, so there you have it. These parts combined would make my current dream MMO.

10 thoughts on “Armchair Game Designer

  1. The best cosmetic system in a game that I have used is in DC Universe Online. Every piece of armor or weapon your character equips is added to a list of styles that can be changed at any time. There are vendors who sell nothing but style items so no two heroes look the same.

  2. The gear manager for switching classes in FF14 is so incredibly smooth. I love it! Now I’m just waiting for them to add a sort option to inventory so I can actually figure out what I have in my Armory.

    • On the surface it’s very similar to Final Fantasy 14. You have a Progress Bar that starts at zero and a durability bar that starts at full. The goal is to reach 100% progress before the durability gets below a certain threshold.
      Now every few seconds you get a crafting “tick” that can be a success or a failure (or critical versions). Those increase or decrease durability and progress, similar to an auto attack in combat. You also get specials that can modify those ticks by for example increasing the progress at the cost of durability or success chance.
      Next, you also have to react to “problems” that occur randomly during the crafting process. Failure to react properly can seriously lower the durability and progress, while countering them can increase both.
      That’s the basic gist of it, like I said, it feel very active, almost like a combat encounter

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  5. I’m sort of tied on LOTRO. BTW, I like this list though I’ve never played Star Wars Online. I hear some good things about it though and your description was good enough to give me an idea.

    The dynamic events though …Rift disappointed me so much with this. It had such great potential! I love the idea! The execution was almost exactly from Tabula Rasa except you got garaunteed rewards at the end of it. In TR, drop ships of enemy troops would somewhat randomly arrive in areas and players would fight them off. Rift’s is much more dynamic, but the gameplay result has been the same. Trion could have learned more from TR and made this feature more than fighting in the woods for a few coins.

    The crafting of EQ2 sounds somewhat similar to Vanguard, but I’ve still not seen a system better than Star Wars Galaxies which is just …VERY bizzare. The system was golden, even by modern standards. EQN is actually promising to deliver something similar, but different in that there’s different tiers of materials (except in EQN it sounds linear with good stuff on one end and items increasingly obsolete on the other).

    Would I play this game you made? Yeah 🙂 I’d give it at least 3 months to draw me in.

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